Collards are a staple in Southern cuisine and have been for generations. But they are not a domestic plant to the U.S. Instead, they came by ship with the early colonists. Archeological evidence shows early Greek and Romans grew collards.

As Thanksgiving approaches we often reflect on the year and give thanks for friends and loved ones. This year I’m so very thankful for the many people that bless my life whether family or friends or acquaintances. The experiences we share with others are what makes our lives rich. And when those experiences involve food there is an extra layer of richness that creates a bond of love.

The common thread of the appreciation of good food has woven so many wonderful people into my life. I recently had a reader request my collard recipe that was first printed in 2019. With the collard harvest in full gear now that a chill has sweetened their leaves many southerners will serve a bowl of steaming collards to friends and family thanksgiving week.

Collards are a staple in Southern cuisine and have been for generations. But these greens are not a domestic plant to the U.S. and came by ship with early colonists. Collards are an ancient vegetable and archeological evidence shows early Greek and Romans grew collards.

I doubt that early man had the same flair that a southern kitchen has with this leafy green member of the broccoli family. Collards are extremely tasty when done right, as well as extremely good for you. These dark, leafy greens are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, folate, and fiber, as well as antioxidants. Never boil, but just cook your collards at a low simmer so that all the nutritional benefits will remain for you.

It’s best to wash your collards to remove any dirt, fold the leaf like a book and cut away the stem that runs through the leaf. Roll the leaves like a cigar and then julienne them.

If you find yourself with an abundance of collard greens you can even freeze them. Simply blanch the washed, trimmed greens in a large pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Immediately plunge them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain thoroughly, spin in a salad spinner, or pat dry and place in freezer storage containers, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Freeze immediately.

This week I have included my favorite collard recipe. Happy Thanksgiving!


If you have a cooking question contact me at and I’d be happy to assist!


Serves 6


• ¼ pound bacon, diced

• 1 large Vidalia onion, diced

• 6 cloves garlic, minced

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 2-3 cups chicken stock

• Pinch red pepper flakes

• Dash hot sauce, or more to taste

• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or more to taste

• 1 ham hock

• 1-2 pieces smoked turkey, preferably wings

• Pimientos or Peppadew peppers, diced

• Fresh collards, prepped


• In a large cast iron pot cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove and set aside.

• Add onion to bacon fat and sauté until softened. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add collards and stir until beginning to wilt.

• Pour in stock, seasonings, and meats. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until greens are tender.

Cheryl Orr is the chef and owner of The Cotton Gin Inn in Edenton.